Governments and militaries in India and Pakistan have the legitimate rights to adopt the strategy and tactics that they deem appropriate on Line of Control/International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. Actions taken could be for inter se dominance – physical or moral, benefits of internal politicking either institutional between Army and Sharif Government in Pakistan or impending all important state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana or plain force of habit a tit for tat.
However the legitimate targets if at all there is any legitimacy to mindless firing sans larger aims and objectives are military and border security forces bunkers, infrastructure and exposed personnel.
These cannot be civilians – be it Indian or Pakistani. Any targeting of civilians either inadvertent or deliberate is violation of basic laws of conflicts by two states who are bounden by the international laws of human rights, are members of the United Nations and proclaim themselves as responsible states.
There could be an argument that civilians are inevitable victims what in derisive terms is known as collateral damage. In a counter insurgency and terrorist campaign this may seem inevitable though is always best avoidable. Yet where two armed forces are facing each other across the International Border and Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and where the positions well identified there is no excuse for targeting civilians.
It is time that India and Pakistan ensure that mindless firing that has resulted in civilian casualties be stopped. Where one side has been targeting the other side’s civil population, the latter has to exercise restraint and avoid a reaction to fire on hapless civilians on the other side. The reaction could be on the military or para military positions to send a stinging lesson rather than civil targets.
Defence Minister Mr Arun Jaitley said on Monday (06 October) “The onus of creating a positive environment is on Pakistan, which it is utterly failing to do. Let everyone be assured that our armed forces and paramilitary forces are fully ready and they are responding to each of these provocations from Pakistan.”
The readiness of the response of the Indian armed forces must be shown in plastering Pakistan military and para military targets not the civilians just because there has been targeting of Arnia Baazar from the Pakistani side.
India as the larger and more responsible state of the two must take the initiative and stop the retaliation on the civil population in Pakistan. Islamabad or Rawalpindi will have no option but to reciprocate proportionately.